Sign on A Wall

The dough board, oblique,
worn to a frazzle, now hangs
in the cellar way. Knuckles
of love soft shoe across it.

Like a fallow field it lies,
twenty years since my mother
powdered and rolled dough
into its grain, beginning bread.

Her hands, white-knuckled,
went board to dough to fore-
head to the plain blue apron
smelling of rolls, haitch
bones, sweat and anxiety.

She struggled great breads 
out of its surface, morning 
fried dough sizzling in oil,
a sure birthday cake three
tiers tall on special days,
and wrung from its granary
pains and aches and tired
bones, migraine’s soft thunder,
age, a shot at infirmity.

That old board, edges like
fingers, hangs awry on a nail
my father drove to catch a jacket;
if I bang it hard enough, fisted,
belligerent about recall, a small
cloud of powder floats her love.

© 2002 Tom Sheehan.  All rights reserved. 


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